For leaders of organizations, managing change is an important strategic task. In the last ten years, there have been numerous studies which all confirmed that between 60-80% of all change projects fail fully or partly: either the objectives of the project are not achieved or the projects cannot be completed in time or on budget. Usually, a lot is at stake: money, personal reputation, and the health of the organization.
So, the 1 million dollar question for any change leader is: How can I make sure that my change project is successful? John Kotter, one of the leading management thinkers and writes has given his answer to this question by providing an eight step model for leading change. Except for the mother of all change models - Kurt Lewin's unfreeze-move-freeze, which I yet have to describe in this series - Kotter's eight steps model is probably the best known and the most applied.
Originator of the Model:
John Kotter, his book "Leading Change" (1996)
Phases of the Change Process (taken from strategicconnections.com):
|John Kotter's 8 step process - an overview|
|1. Increase urgency|| |
|2. Build the Guiding Team|| |
|3. Get the Vision Right|| |
|4. Communicate for Buy-in|| |
|5. Empowering Action|| |
|6. Create short term wins|| |
|7. Do Not Let Up|| |
|8. Make Change Stick|| |
The Kotter model can be applied for all top-down change processes, i.e. for projects that have been decided at the top management level of an organization. The US Army applied it to prepare the troops for the new forms of asymetrical threat.
Does the Model Relate to Complexity Theory?
No. Kotter's eight steps is a linear model that assumes predictability and manageability of change processes.
- Focus on buy-in of employees as the focus for success
- Clear steps which can give a guidance for the process
- Easy to understand
- Can be successful when all steps are well communicated
- Fits well into the culture of classical hierarchies
- The linearity of the model can lead to wrong assumptions.
- Once the process has started, it is difficult to change the direction.
- The model is clearly top-down, it gives no room for co-creation or other forms of true participation.
- Can lead to deep frustrations among employees if the stages of grief and individual needs are not taken into consideration.
Website of John Kotter.